I had intended to sit down and write something about Davy Jones today. But, if my Facebook news feed is any indication, I am not the only one who had a childhood infatuation with Davy and the Monkees. It seems everything that needs to be written about Davy’s passing has already been written, every “Last Train To Clarkesville” pun used up. Would I be worthy of writing about my love for Davy Jones if I told you that, as a middle schooler, I started my own Monkees fan club? Or that I forced my parents to drive me three and a half hours to State College, PA, for a Davy Jones book signing and, while I was waiting in line for hours upon hours for my 30 seconds with Davy, they ran into him at a bar? Or that I talked my parents into letting me fly to Chicago for a Monkees convention, and I slept on a Chicago sidewalk to get a good seat for Davy’s talk? (I was maybe 13 at the time.) No? OK, then.
I think what I remember most about that time is not my love for Davy or the Monkees specifically, but the way music could carry me away. The way I would sit in my room for hours, rewinding the same song over and over on my Walkman, memorizing the lyrics and feeling absolutely transported. When I found the right song, all the middle school angst and insecurity receded. For a little while, I could forget all the boys who didn’t like me and my certain fate as an unpopular, unloved spinster. After all, not every unloved spinster knows all the words to “Randy Scouse Git.” (There’s a Monkees song I bet you didn’t know.)
Twenty five years later, one of the biggest regrets of my adult life is that I lost touch with that love for music. I’m 37, and I’ve been listening for far too long to the same Bob Dylan albums I discovered when I was 23. I’ve become so bored with my 15-year-old music collection that I don’t even hear it anymore when I put it on the stereo. Somewhere along the way, I became one of those people who knows nothing about music. The person who never buys any albums, and who has no idea who you’re talking about when you tell me about the show you’re going to see this weekend. The person who turns on some lame Top 40 station for background music in the car. I guess it was inertia, laziness, misplaced frugality. Whatever it was, I didn’t like being that kind of person.
That’s why one of my big goals for 2012 is to discover new music. Because it’s as important now as it was in middle school to transcend the mundane day-to-day worries of life. To find something that helps me remember the beauty of simply being alive. And it is great to be alive in a world that’s bursting with song. I am just getting started on this new endeavor, and I am far from a music expert, but I’m going to share a few of the songs that are making me feel like a middle-schooler again. And why don’t you tell me: What else should I be listening to?